BIFMA: Business + Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association has appointed Humanscale’s Sustainability Officer, Jane Abernethy, as Vice Chair of the group’s Sustainability Committee. Created to develop and enforce manufacturing standards on comfort, safety, sustainability and durability within the commercial furniture industry, BIFMA plays a critical role in keeping workplace solutions safe for consumers and ensuring accountability among industry players.
Starting with Humanscale as an industrial designer in 2007, Abernethy found her passion for sustainability early on. Demonstrating an exceptional level of knowledge about the subject, she was selected to lead the Humanscale design team through its first BIFMA Certification in 2012 and has remained a vocal leader for responsible, transparent manufacturing ever since. Working closely with Humanscale’s Founder and CEO, Robert King, Abernethy leads the company’s efforts to create healthier workspaces with designs and systems that have a positive impact on the environment. Under her leadership, Humanscale is a founding member of multiple coalitions that hold businesses to a higher standard, including the Net Positive Project, an organization striving for a world in which companies drive financial success by putting more into society, the environment, and the global economy than they take out, and the NextWave Initiative, a consortium of businesses working to redirect plastics from the waste stream to the supply chain in an effort to reduce ocean plastic pollution.
One of Abernethy’s most notable achievements to date includes guiding Humanscale through Living Product Challenge certification. This certification program from the International Living Future Institute sets the most rigorous standards for sustainable manufacturing and design. In 2016, Humanscale became the first manufacturer to complete the full challenge with not one, but two products. Through her work as Sustainability Officer and with the Living Product Challenge, Abernethy distilled Humanscale’s sustainability mission into a bold and impactful statement. As a result, she’s played an instrumental role in securing support for this important work from colleagues across the organization.
Abernethy will also leverage her experience on the board of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, a non-profit member organization committed to improving the building industry’s environmental and health performance through transparency and innovation, to benefit BIFMA’s various sustainability initiatives. She has extensive experience studying product lifecycles and sourcing healthy, non-toxic materials and ingredients.
Well versed in safety, transparency and wellness within the furnishings industry, Abernethy will make a substantial impact on the BIFMA Sustainability Committee as Vice Chair. “My mission,” she says, “is to show other companies how they too can create real, positive change by implementing better manufacturing and design practices that are truly regenerative in nature.” Given that the landscape of sustainability continues to evolve, Abernethy believes that education is key: “I look forward to working with other BIFMA board members to ensure that our sustainability standards reflect the latest research and that the benefits of implementing these practices are clearly communicated.”